NEW DELHI: The Allahabad high court on Wednesday stayed the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) survey of the Gyanvapi mosque site in Varanasi till July 27. It posted the matter for further hearing on Thursday at 3.30pm.

The court said that the interim order by the Supreme Court, which had paused the exercise till 5pm on July 26, should continue.

“The ASI’s additional director today filed an affidavit in the high court stating that during the survey there will be no damage to the structure. The ASI survey will not take place till tomorrow when the court will hear this matter again at 3.30pm,” Vishnu Shankar Jain, appearing for the Hindu side in the case, told reporters after the hearing.
During the hearing, the Allahabad HC Chief Justice Pritinker Diwaker also directed the ASI official to inform the team present at the site not to start the excavation even if the Supreme Court stay order, which was till 5pm on July 26, had expired.
Earlier, the high court resumed hearing a plea against a district court order directing the Archaeological Survey of India to conduct a survey to determine if the Gyanvapi mosque in Varanasi was built upon a temple.
After hearing arguments in the matter on Tuesday, Chief Justice Pritinker Diwaker had posted it for further hearing on Wednesday.
On Tuesday, Anjuman Intezamia Masjid, which manages the mosque, moved the high court, a day after the Supreme Court halted the ASI survey till 5pm Wednesday, allowing time for the mosque management committee to appeal against the lower court’s order.
The counsel for the committee, senior advocate SFA Naqvi, prayed for early hearing of the case before Chief Justice Diwaker stating that there is an urgency as the apex court’s order will expire on Wednesday.
The Chief Justice said he will hear the matter if the parties have no objection.
Vishnu Shankar Jain, the counsel for the respondent (Hindu side), submitted that in the Ram Mandir case, a survey was conducted by the ASI and the same was accepted by the high court as well as the Supreme Court.
The mosque is located next to the Kashi Vishwanath temple in Varanasi and Hindu litigants in the district court had sought the survey to determine whether a temple existed at the same spot earlier.
The Varanasi district court on Friday ordered the ASI to conduct a survey using technologies like ground penetrating radar and excavations, if necessary.
The apex court’s Monday order to pause the survey came while the ASI team was inside the mosque complex.
(With inputs from PTI)

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